[sixties-l] Grateful Dead Lyricist Condemns New Copyright Law (fwd)

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Date: Sat Mar 02 2002 - 16:16:31 EST

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    Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 17:35:25 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Grateful Dead Lyricist Condemns New Copyright Law

    Grateful Dead Lyricist Condemns New Copyright Law


    Sun Feb 24, 2002
    By Elinor Mills Abreu

    SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) - The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has
    been used to jail a Russian software programmer and stifle Web sites, is
    threatening the free flow of information, civil libertarians say.

    Their struggle, which will eventually determine the course of how people
    view movies, read books and use other material over the Internet, has
    attracted luminaries like Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow.

    Barlow, a co-founder of the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier
    Foundation, has been at the forefront of protecting individual freedoms
    online as the Internet matured from the anarchistic electronic playground of
    a decade ago to the pervasive, regulated marketplace it is today.

    "Information does want to be free," he said at a security conference on
    Friday. "That's how the human mind works."

    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, he said, would turn "what has become a
    natural rainforest" into a desert.

    Enacted in 1998, the law prohibits creating or distributing technology that
    can be used to circumvent copyright protections.

    Movie studios, record labels and software companies support the law, arguing
    that tight restrictions are needed to stop people from using the Internet to
    freely swap intellectual property they should be paying for.

    But programmers, computer scientists and civil libertarians claim the law
    gives copyright owners and software vendors carte blanche control over how
    people use digital material at the expense of free speech and "fair use"
    rights that people have in the real world.

    Barlow and the defense lawyer for a Russian company accused of violating the
    law debated its merits with two lawyers representing the interests of
    copyright holders in a panel at the conference sponsored by Internet
    security firm RSA Security Inc. .


    "It sucks," Barlow said when asked to summarize what he thinks of the law.
    "It's unconstitutional."

    Not only does the law curtail individual rights to free speech, he said, but
    by limiting the exchange of ideas for the sake of corporate profits, it is
    also culturally damaging.

    "Society has certain rights, (like) the right to know that supersedes the
    rights of content distributors," Barlow said.

    Two lawyers disagreed.

    "I believe in property rights," said Emery Simon, an attorney for the
    Business Software Alliance, a lobbying group representing software vendors.

    Intangibles like software and digital entertainment should have the same
    protections as tangible property, he added.

    "You produce a piece of software and it gets uploaded to the Internet" and
    distributed widely, Simon said, painting a hypothetical picture. Software
    programmers "should get paid for their work."

    Jeffrey Osterman of New York law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges said the future
    of entertainment e-commerce depends on the ability to control who can access
    the material.

    "If access control doesn't work, content providers won't put content up," he
    said. "In the future, you'll get access to all the content you want for a
    flat fee, for a limited time."

    Objecting, Barlow pointed out that the Grateful Dead, one of the most
    popular bands in U.S. history, still managed to get rich from its
    top-selling albums despite encouraging the taping of "bootleg" audiotapes of
    the group's concerts.

    "Part of what drives the market is ethics," not just economics, he said. "I
    never saw anybody sell (Grateful Dead bootleg) tapes. You have to look at
    the kind of damage we do in the future if we try to own speech."


    Joseph Burton, an attorney at the San Francisco-based firm of Duane Morris,
    argued that under current law, people are entitled to fewer rights over
    digital content than they have over the same content in the physical world.

    For example, he said, ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. of Moscow faces charges of
    violating the law for selling a program that lets people using Adobe Systems
    Inc.'s eBook Reader to copy and print digital books, transfer them to other
    computers and have them read aloud by the computer, which are "fair use"
    protections under the law.

    "I'm an e-book author and if someone wants to back up my e-book in case the
    (computer) system crashes, that's not that bad," said panel moderator Steven
    Levy, a technology columnist for Newsweek.

    Simon countered that "fair use does not mean ... I can make a whole copy of
    this thing," such as an electronic book.

    The ElcomSoft program also allows unauthorized users to access copyright
    content, Osterman noted.

    "It may," Burton said. "A master key could be used by crooks. But the master
    key maker shouldn't be put in jail. The crooks who are using it to break
    into your house should be."

    While ElcomSoft still faces trial, the U.S. government agreed to drop
    charges against Dmitry Sklyarov, the 27-year-old ElcomSoft engineer who
    wrote the program, in exchange for his testimony. Sklyarov and ElcomSoft say
    they have done nothing illegal.

    There have been other cases involving the law. The most prominent involves a
    lawsuit filed by a group of movie studios against a Web site that had posted
    and linked to sites that posted software used to descramble antipiracy
    protections in digital video discs. A federal judge has ruled in favor of
    the studios.

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